Knoxville, Tennessee (WATE) – Jimmy, a 15-year-old African lion, was euthanized at the Knoxville Zoo on Friday due to age-related health problems.
Jimmy was born in 2006 at Knoxville Zoo and lived with his longtime partner Zarina in the Valley of the Kings exhibition. Jimmy was being treated for spinal problems that are common in older lions, but last week he began struggling with the mobility of his hind legs. The zoo says his condition has not improved with medication and his quality of life has deteriorated quickly.
“Jimmy was a noble ambassador who helped tell the story of one of the most famous animals in the world,” said Phil Colclough, director of animal care, conservation and education. âMost of us will never have the opportunity to travel to Africa, but Jimmy gave us the opportunity to appreciate the royal presence and beauty of the lions. He has helped inspire people to take care of the plight of lions and that will be his legacy here. We are very happy that we have had the privilege to take care of him over the years. ”
Knoxville Zoo says they will be paying extra attention to his mate Zarina to help her cope with the loss of Jimmy.
The African lion population in the wild is vulnerable to traditional medicine due to prey exhaustion and the illegal trade in lion body parts. It is believed that fewer than 25,000 lions live in Africa.